Thursday, April 9, 2015

Recap: Avengers: EMH "Everything is Wonderful"

You know what? Everything is wonderful. Spring is in the air, and I get the joy of recapping Avengers: EMH for you. Today is a good day.Why, I'm in such a good mood that I would buy you a small jar of Nutella. But I won't. Because I don't have the money. And I don't know you. Stranger danger.


Anyway, let's get to recappin'.

With a title like "Everything is Wonderful," I expect nothing but good things for all the characters.
The episode opens with a man in a containment suit inside some kind of claustrophobic container. His breathing is quick, and his eyes are wide. His only means of contact with the outside world is a single opening, no bigger than the mail slot in a door. Suddenly, his body is flooded with purple Kirby dots at the behest of MODOK, cyborg leader of the Advanced Idea Mechanics. As Simon’s body is overwhelmed, he spies Thor and Wasp arriving to fight MODOK and AIM. In a really nice touch, the dialogue is all muted. Because we’re seeing things from this test subject’s point of view, the loudest thing we can hear is this guy’s panicked breathing. Combined with the unique angle of this guy’s point of view, it makes for an attention-grabbing opening.

Speaking of attention grabbing, the test subject’s attention is suddenly drawn to the big sciencey-thing shooting purple energy rays at him. Mainly because, thanks to the Avengers’ intrusion, it’s now falling on him. In the kerfuffle, he tries to escape, but his body simply disintegrates, and his containment suit falls to the ground. But the man stand up again, reborn as a being of pure energy. And he’s mad.

Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I love this teaser. It’s unique, it’s cool, it’s very atmospheric, and it piques the audience’s interest.

How can you not love this?
After the opening theme song, we rewind three hours. Tony Stark is in a meeting. As per usual for Tony’s meetings, he’s not paying any attention to the other person. The other person in question is Simon Williams, head of Williams Innovations. Long story short, his company was at the forefront of new energy sources. Then along comes Tony Stark with his miraculous Arc Reactor. Now, the energy business is like one big game of Monopoly where Tony Stark has hotels on Broadway and Park Place and all four railroads. Actually, that metaphor was a bit more apt than I meant it to be, because Tony’s been actively been purchasing shares of Simon’s company. Simon came here today to basically beg Tony not to buy his company out from under him.

Simon: “I built Williams Innovations from nothing. It’s all I have.”
Tony Stark: “’Was,’ actually.”

As it turns out, Tony Stark owns the company, as of fifteen minutes prior.

"Honestly, Simon. Do you take me for some kind of comic book villain? I bought the majority of the shares fifteen minutes ago."
Simon walks out in a huff, vowing revenge. This is enough to finally get Tony to pay attention. He yells at Simon to come back, but it’s too late. Simon’s gone. Ant-Man crawls out of the machinery Tony was working on, presumably to fix JARVIS after Black Panther's tampering with it last episode.

Ant-Man: “You’re a real piece of work, Tony.”
Tony: “Don’t start, Hank.”
Ant-Man: “Do the words ‘business ethics’ mean anything to you?”

A contradiction in terms, probably.

Ant-Man: “What kind of man so callously disregards another human being like that?”

If you've ever worked retail, you know the answer is everyone.

Tony: “I’ve got a plan you wouldn’t understand, Hank.”

Yeah, Hank, you’re just an expert in geology, physics, biology, robotics, and engineering. This is economics we’re talking about.

Tony: “Wasp would understand. Maybe I can explain it to Jan over dinner. And then she can explain it to you.”

Do the words “never rub another man’s rhubarb” mean anything to you, Tony?

Speaking of that particular rhubarb, Wasp is chasing after an AIM airship with Thor. She explains to Thor that these guys are in the business of making awesome sci-fi weapons and selling them to the highest bidder. Speaking of sci-fi weapons, the fleeing ship uses one on Thor and Wasp. It launches a miniature black hole at them, which Thor destroys with a bolt of lightning and a thunder-powered shockwave.

"Sure, why not."
Thor: “I tire of these… ‘geeks.’”

He asks if they should get the other Avengers in on this, but Wasp convinces him it’ll be more fun without them. Thor throws his hammer to disable the black hole gun, and they let the ship escape so they can follow it back to the AIM base.

Back at Avengers Mansion, Captain America is looking at his Dorito-shaped body in a mirror.

Captain America: “What are you doing here, soldier?”

Looking at your Dorito-shaped body in a mirror. Next question.
JARVIS tells Cap he has a visitor, and he heads into the foyer to find Nick Fury waiting for him. Nick asks the captain to go with him. He’s got a little special something for the captain.

Over with Simon Williams, he’s in his limousine asking his brother for help. Which is all well and good. Except that his brother’s the Grim Reaper, aka “the guy who busted Baron Von Strucker out of prison.” Grim Reaper agrees to help his brother, and he takes Simon to a secret lair.

Now, all Simon wants is revenge on Tony Stark. Grim Reaper seems to have interpreted this as asking for super powers. They exit the hideout’s elevator on the lowest floor, revealing AIM’s full operation.

Soon, they will control the world's honey supply.
MODOK: “We can remake you, Simon Williams, into something powerful enough to defeat even Iron Man.”

At this point, Simon should just be saying, “I’ll give you what little money I have left for funding, please use this tech on some other guy to do the dirty work?” But Simon realizes that you don’t say no to a guy who looks like that. Although he does ask if he’ll still be human after all is said and done.

MODOK: “Human? Why would you want to be human?”

Because not everybody can pull off the big-head-tiny-body look. In fact, that's an ugly look.

Oh, it looks good on you, though.
MODOK explains that this particular science device will keep him superficially human, but fill his cells with ionic energy through the use of a Zeta Beam. Well, there’s your problem, MODOK. Ask any DC fan. Zeta Beams are for teleporting.

Simon agrees to the procedure, and soon gets prepped and put into the original Wonder Man costume containment suit.

MODOK: “You do understand no one has survived this process, correct?”

Somebody needs to give OSHA a call.

Grim Reaper asks for an update on some kind of cube-shaped cosmic-y thing that AIM is making for HYDRA, but MODOK simply snaps in response. As Grim Reaper leaves, Nick takes Captain America to the secret entrance to a S.H.I.E.L.D. base, which is hidden in a barbershop. They ride the chairs down to the sublevel, and Fury gives Cap his gift: a WW2-era motorcycle.

Nick Fury: “My dad passed this down to me. He said it belonged to you.”

He tells Cap that his dad’s name was Sergeant Jack Fury of the Howling Commandos, and Cap recognizes it instantly.

Nick Fury: “Anything Captain America needs, ever, S.H.I.E.L.D. will provide for him.”

Back at the tower….

Ant-Man: “I’m not judging you. I’m just saying that you value money and business over people.”

Tony accuses Hank of being angry at him over Ultron. You see, five years ago, Hank and Tony worked together to develop the technology to map a human mind to a machine, leading to the creation of Ultron. But Hank soon learned that Tony wanted to use Ultron as a weapon and they had a falling out. Who says Joss Whedon came up with the idea of Tony being involved with the creation of Ultron?

Tony Stark: “I’m a different person now!”

Hank accuses Tony of still hurting people, like Simon Williams, as the damaged AIM ship finally returns to base.

AIM Goon: “We were in the middle of the Maggia sale when two Avengers burst in.”

Heh, drive-by comic references.

AIM Scientist: “The Avengers were chasing you and you came here?”
Wasp: “Yeah, you guys. What were you thinking?”

Wasp and Thor begin their raid as the Zeta Beams begin hitting Simon, like in the episode teaser. This time, though, we see the whole thing from the Avengers’ perspective. And we get to actually hear their dialogue as the see MODOK for the first time.

Thor: “’Tis some kind of… of…. That is a very big head.”
MODOK: “I am MODOK! I am the ultimate in human-machine interface! I am designed only for conquest!”
Wasp: “Whatever you say, freakshow.”

Actually, MODOK has a point. In the comics, he’s the Mobile Organisim Designed Only for Killing. In cartoons, they tend to change the “Killing” into “Conquest.” Technically, I should be calling this character “MODOC.” But we’ve seen how bad I am at spelling “Zzzax,” so I think I’ll just stick to what I know.

The fight from the beginning breaks out, MODOK’s mental bolts hit his own machine, and Simon gets flooded with an even huger amount of ionic energy, turning Simon into a glowy, purple, energy man.

Thor: “Another villain?”
Wasp: “Probably. You wanna hit him, or you want me to?”

What, you’re just assuming that he came here with bad intentions to become a supervillain? Well, guess what, you two? …Oh wait, that’s exactly what he did. Never mind.

Simon flies off as MODOK gloats.

MODOK: “I am science! I am genius!”

Yeah, but you’re no vengeance, no the night, and certainly no Batman.

Back at Stark Tower, Hank and Tony are still going at it.

Tony: “Everything I do is to help people!”
Hank: “Everything you do is to clean up a mess you made!”

Suddenly, the tower rumbles.

Tony: “Well, I didn’t do that.”

Well, seeing as how that rumble was caused by Simon coming here for revenge, you kinda did.

Iron Man and Simon meet up. After telling Tony that this is for what he did earlier, Simon proceeds to punch the various panels of Tony’s Iron Man suit off of him. Pepper comes in to do her job, then quickly turns around and leaves as she sees her boss’s head poking out of a wall.

Talk about a Purple Nurple.
Simon rants about how his company was all he had, and how terrible and selfish Tony is while beating him up.

Tony: “You didn’t… let me finish!”

Well, maybe if you didn’t blow him off and say, “Yeah, I own your company now” and maybe actually told him about you oh-so-special plan, you wouldn’t be getting beaten up by a Doctor Manhattan wannabe!

Ant-Man shows up to try and defuse the situation. After all, all three of them are scientists.

Ant-Man: “And I… wouldn’t mind taking a look at you. Is that ionic energy you’re made of?”

Your pickup lines need work.

Iron Man hits a button to move his Jackson Pollock out of the way and hits Simon with his repulsors. Ant-Man tells Tony to get to safety while he handles Simon. He sends a signal to the other Avengers, and grows to normal height before Simon tackles him into the street.

Meanwhile, Thor and Wasp are still fighting AIM and MODOK while making fun of his hideousness. MODOK converts the base into an airship and escapes the fight, leaving Wasp and Thor behind.

Thor: “Scientists are not to be trusted.”
Wasp: “You got that right.”

Am I allowed to say that that’s not a very nice thing to say behind her scientist boyfriend’s back? Am I allowed to say that without putting money in the jar? Can I get the impartial judge’s opinion?

"We'll let it slide."
Thank you.

"Any more comments like that, though, and you'll have to pony up."
I accept the court’s decision.

Anyway, Wasp gets the alert as Hank becomes Giant-Man, trying to get the odds on his side, but Simon manages to replicate the feat, to Hank’s amazement. He tries to appeal to Simon’s logical side, but Simon refuses to listen to reason until Hank whips out the big speech. After making Simon confront what he’s become in the name of revenge, Simon shrinks back to human-size and surrenders… only to end up caught in a stasis field by Tony’s Hulkbuster suit.

Huh. I wonder where that was when you were trying to subdue the Hulk a couple episodes ago.
The fight begins anew, despite Hank’s protestations, and a motorcycle-riding Captain America joins in. But Simon’s ionic field starts destabilizing. At Tony’s urging, Hank realizes that they can stabilize him using the giant reactor in Stark Tower. Tony takes Simon to the tower, but Simon refuses to enter the Arc Reactor. He simply refuses to lose his one weapon of revenge on the man who ruined his life.

Is the missing hand a Major Force reference? Nice.
In the end, he disappears before he reaches the reactor.

Tony: “This… this is not what I wanted. I was trying to explain to him… I bought Simon’s company to save it. It wasn’t going to survive. I knew Simon had brilliant tech in development. I wanted to work with him. To save what he built. All I wanted to do was help him.”

Then, uh, maybe you shouldn’t have ignored him when he confronted you over this?

Later that night, residual ionic energy reforms into a humanoid form.

Simon: “Am I… alive?”
Enchantress: “Indeed, you are. As long as my magic allows it.”

All she asks in return is a single favor.

Enchantress: “Destroy the Avengers.”

And with that, the episode ends. Let's review.

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